As she dons the baker’s cap for a television series, Maria Goretti talks about the art and her favourite Christmas delicacies
Baking is something that not everyone in India thinks about. Although we do have thoughts about it, we shrug them away soon enough. Maria Goretti is all set to break these stereotypes in her new show “I Want to Bake Free” on Living Foodz. The show will explore the world of baking and will make it simpler for the viewer to follow the recipes which comes straight out of her kitchen. Also, we’ll get to know that baking is so much more than desserts. So how does she plan to actually change people’s perception about baking? “Well, firstly I thought it was a very interesting concept and doing a show like this would be so much fun. Secondly, I think baking is something that people are not very sure of – if they want to do it or not, what ingredients do they require, will it actually turn out to be like shown in the recipe and they are hesitant to do it. But in this show I try to make it a little simpler for the ones who would like to go into baking. I want to show that baking is, in fact, very simple. It just requires a little time, focus and concentration and then it becomes the easiest thing to do,” says Maria over a telephonic conversation.
With a free heart
She adds that a person should shut out all the questions and apprehensions and bake with a free heart, free mind and free soul.
An interesting thing about Maria is that she didn’t like to cook at first. In fact, she would rebel to her mother when asked to learn to cook. “It was because of my son that I started cooking in the first place because I didn’t how to cook at all and I realised that I need to do it now. So while spending time with him , I learnt new dishes and I was happy that I am able to do it. It made a big difference to me as a person when I started cooking and I really recommend that everyone should try it in their life.”
When asked about her personal favourite while baking she says, “I enjoy baking breads, tarts and simple frozen cakes. But my personal favourite is Mille Fuille, though I just enjoy the whole art and science of baking.” Her favourite breads to experiment with are poee, Australian soda Bread, Anadama bread, pretzels, baguette baked bread and lentil bread.
Returning for her second show with Living Foodz, she says it’s great to work in a professional environment where people know what they want and what are her requirements as a chef.
The show will have special episodes on Christmas, Valentine’s Day and also a children’s special where chef Maria will introduce recipes straight from her kitchen to make every occasion a bit sweeter.
Celebrating Christmas as a kid
As a kid, Christmas was always fun. We went to the midnight mass and would come back to loads of presents under the Christmas tree which were apparently given by Santa (laughs) and then there would be a fun filled family lunch.
Special dishes that she makes for Christmas every year
I love making baked chicken, aubergine and feta cheese, lamb in vandaloo sauce and prawn curry and a mutton mohir recipe that belongs to my mom. For the vegetarians, I have cheese pasta and East Indian corn curry. There’s a plethora of desserts at my table like chocolate hazelnut tart, strawberry meringue, chocolate cake, chocolate fondue with fresh fruits and marshmallows, dessert pizza which has marshmallows and nuts.
VJ, dancer, actor, chef – the side of Maria that she loves the most
I enjoy doing all of this! Otherwise why would I be doing this? This is me. I did all of these because I enjoy it. And if I don’t enjoy, I simply get out of it. So I’m very clear about that. And I’ve been very lucky to be able to do things I enjoy doing.LENTIL BREAD
Urad Dal Lentils made into a batter and baked to make a soft flavourful nutritious bread.
Makes 1 medium bread pan (8.5 by 4.5 inch loaf pan)
1.5 cups urad dal (split and skinned black gram )
3 Tbsp corn starch or tapioca starch
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp flaxmeal or psyllium husk
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp oil
Soak the urad dal overnight. Drain and add to a food processor. Process the dal until it is just slightly gritty.
Process for 30 to 45 seconds then move the dal with a spatula. It will take 3 to 4 minutes to break the lentils down into a batter type consistency. Add just a little water (3 to 6 Tablespoons) to help with the processing. Add the rest of the ingredients and process for a minute to combine.
Check the batter for aeration. (drop a half tsp of batter in a cup of water. The batter should float on the top). If not aerated well , transfer the thick batter to a bowl and whip with a large spoon a few times, then check again. the batter should be thick and pasty but also slightly bubbly.
Drop batter into parchment lined bread pan. Spray oil on top and even it out using a light hand so the air in the batter is not pressed out.
Preheat the oven to 395 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes. Cover the bread with another parchment after first 15 to 20 minutes by placing the parchment on the loaf pan. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees F after 45 minutes, remove parchment and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool completely before slicing. (about an hour). The bread slices more easily the next day. Refrigerate the bread for upto 5 days in an airtight container.
The bread crust is crusty the first day and gets softer as it sits because of moisture. Moisture in the storage container after a day is normal. I like to use the bread with chutney toppings or simple sandwiches.